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memri
October 30, 2017 No.
7155

Hamas Spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri To Iranian News Agency: Our Aim In Hamas-Fatah Reconciliation 'Is To Make Ourselves More Available To Engage In Resistance'

In an October 25, 2017 interview with the Iranian news agency ISNA, which is affiliated with Iran's moderate pragmatic stream, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri discussed at length his movement's relationship with Iran as well as the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation agreement. He said that Hamas's disagreements with Iran in the matter of Hamas's support for the resistance in Syria were all in the past, and that Iran and Hamas were each seeking closer ties with each other.

Regarding the intra-Palestinian reconciliation agreement, Abu Zuhri stressed that it would not harm the resistance, and underlined that Hamas would never disarm. He noted that Hamas's aim in the reconciliation was actually to free it up to devote its time and energy to the resistance, and added that if Fatah wanted to pull Hamas towards compromise with Israel, "we will pull Fatah towards the resistance."

The following are translated excerpts of Abu Zuhri's interview with ISNA:


Sami Abu Zuhri (image: isna.ir)

The Hamas-Iran Disagreements – All In The Past

Q: "Recently, you said that the disagreements between Iran and Hamas were all in the past. What did you mean?

Abu Zuhri: "The main axis in this matter is the issue of Palestine and the resistance. Both sides want to expand their relationship, therefore the disagreements between the[se two] sides are all in the past, and have lost their importance. We will return to the warm relations we had before. There is no problem in this matter."

Q: "What caused the disagreements? Some say that there were developments in Hamas's structure and that a desire emerged to expand relations with Iran."

Abu Zuhri: "It is not important to return to the past. We must look at the wonderful relations between Iran and Hamas [today]. Hamas's internal developments and the elections that were held have nothing to do with Iran's and Hamas's decision to [reinstate] the wonderful relations that they had in the past. As I said, both sides seek to expand their relationship. One of the reasons [for this] is that the enemies have stepped up their efforts to attack both, and the resistance, and this makes it necessary for Iran and Hamas to return to the good and wonderful relations they had in the past."

Q: "The recent developments in the region, including the rapprochement between Iran and Turkey, the incidents between Qatar and some of the Gulf Cooperation Council member states, and, most important, the changes in the arena of the fighting and in the policy in Syria – to what extent have these things impacted Hamas's decision to return to the wonderful relations that it once had with Iran?"

Abu Zuhri: "Both sides want to restore these relations to what they were in the past. Like I said, there is increased hostility on the part of the enemies towards the resistance, towards Iran and Hamas, and this factor means that both sides are obliged to expand their relations more than in the past."

Iran "Stressed That The Reconciliation Must Not Harm The Resistance Project"; We Will Invest All Our Efforts In Gaining Might

Q: "How have Iran's officials viewed the national Fatah-Hamas reconciliation?"

Abu Zuhri: "In my meetings with Iranian officials, they welcomed and recognized it as a good opportunity to end the problems, the pain, and the suffering of the people in Gaza. But they also stressed that the national reconciliation must not harm the resistance project. We too fear this, and God forbid such a thing should happen."

Q: "Some claim that there is a chance that the resistance will be weakened because of the national reconciliation, and also that Hamas will have to disarm. With regard to these fears, what strategy does [Hamas] have so that such a thing does not happen to the resistance?"

Abu Zuhri: "I assure everyone that, with regard to the current and future situation of the resistance, the national reconciliation will never harm the resistance. For this reason, after the meetings in Cairo, our first official visit was to Iran in order to stress again that we are standing fast alongside the resistance. In contrast to what some are saying, our aim in the reconciliation is to make ourselves more available to engage in resistance. In actuality, our aim in the national reconciliation is for us to be able to devote more attention to the resistance.

"In the arena of the fighting, the resistance is very strong, and can inflict heavy blows upon the Zionist enemy. We will invest all our efforts in obtaining all the tools and equipment needed for strength and might, so that we will be able to take back our rights from the enemies."

Disarming Hamas – A Dream That Won't Come True; We Are Looking For A Political Plan That Will Bring Together All The Fighting Against The Zionist Enemy

Abu Zuhri: "During the talks, no topic called disarming came up, and this matter is not under discussion. If some are dreaming of disarming the resistance, we can dash their dreams. These are dreams that will never come true.

Q: "To what extent does Hamas trust Fatah? How can you be certain that in the future Fatah will not force you to join the compromise [with Israel]?"

Abu Zuhri: "The disputes in Palestine are continuing. Fatah is moving ahead in the compromise process, and Hamas is advancing the resistance process. We are making efforts so that both sides [Fatah and Hamas] reach a compromise, so that we will be able to serve Palestine. If Fatah wants to pull us towards compromise [with Israel], we will pull Fatah towards the resistance."

Q: "What issues can Hamas and Fatah agree on?"

Abu Zuhri: "We are looking for a political plan that will bring together all the fighting against the Zionist enemy, whether it is connected to the resistance or connected to the political process in Palestine."

Q: "Some are arguing that Hamas wanted to prevent a drop in its popularity in the Gaza Strip as a result of the problems with which the people is struggling, and that is why it reached an agreement with Fatah – in order to shift the responsibility for Gaza affairs to it, and thus keep [Hamas's] popularity with the people in the [Gaza] region from falling."

Abu Zuhri: "In the 2014 [Hamas-Fatah] Shati [Reconciliation] Agreement, Hamas agreed to transfer the rule to the other side [Fatah] and that that side would take upon itself the responsibility for Gaza['s administration]. That is, we are already not responsible in Gaza. But the other side [Fatah] did not meet its responsibility, and an administrative and legal vacuum was created in the Gaza Strip. In order to resolve this problem, we created an administrative staff in Gaza. The recent agreement in Cairo obliges the government of Palestine [i.e., the PA government] to meet its obligations in Gaza and removes from us the yoke of responsibility that in the past we were forced to accept.

"This is not connected to [the issue of] a decline in Hamas's popularity. Our popularity in Gaza is high, and it rose further after the national reconciliation. The government of Palestine has a budget for administering the state, and it receives aid from various countries. Therefore, it must take the expenses of the people upon itself. We have no budget [for this]."

One Of The Aims Of The Reconciliation Is The Lifting Of The Siege On Gaza

Q: "With the reconciliation agreement, is there hope that in the near future the siege on Gaza will be lifted?"

Abu Zuhri: "One of our main aims [in the agreement] was [to obtain] the lifting of the siege on Gaza. We will invest efforts in order to resolve the problems of the people in this region [Gaza], so that they will have a normal life.

Q: "In recent years, the takfiri stream that was created within the Islamic world bumped the issue of Palestine from top position in the priorities of the Islamic world and the Arab countries. Now, the Islamic State (ISIS) is being defeated. Is there a chance that Palestine will again be top priority in the Islamic world?"

Abu Zuhri: "Unfortunately, in recent years, the Islamic world has experienced the harshest of conditions, and the issue of Palestine has been pushed aside. We are investing efforts so that this issue will again be top priority, in the region and in the world. Therefore, we took the step of the national reconciliation and of expanding relations [with various parties]."

Q: "Countries such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE and some other Arab countries have [both] open and secret relations with the Zionist regime. Should they give Palestine top priority?

Abu Zuhri: "As Palestinians, our role is to push everyone in this direction, so that the Palestinian issue will be top priority. Some of the countries are making an effort in this direction [i.e. making it top priority], and there are also countries that are guilty [of not doing so]. But we are making an effort to apply pressure, in various ways, so that the issue of Palestine regains its original status."

Iran's Relations With Hamas Will Flourish Even More In The Future

Q: "It appears that behind the recent elections and the changes in the Hamas leadership, this movement is making an effort to expand its relations with the leaders of various countries. For example, we saw recently that [Hamas political bureau head Isma'il] Haniya spoke on the phone with several top officials in the countries of the Islamic world."

Abu Zuhri: "The national reconciliation agreement is the result of a positive desire in Hamas's policy and positions. We cordially welcomed the Cairo talks, and we attained results. We want to expand our relations, and also the other sides have reached the conclusion that they must have similar [positive] relations with Hamas and must expand their relations with it. These are the results of the good will that Hamas has shown.

Q: "What does Hamas predict for the future of the Iran-Hamas relationship?"

Abu Zuhri: "I am confident about the future of the Iran-Hamas relationship, and that our relationship has experienced a quantum leap in our recent meetings with top Iranian officials. These relations will flourish even more in the future."[1]

 

[1] Isna.ir, October 25, 2017.